PFAS in car seats

PFAS treatments in children's car seats

Published on January 27, 2021

The Ecology Center has analyzed children's car seats for a variety of chemical hazards for over ten years.  Recently, we began investigating the use and potential impact of PFAS in children's products, including car seats.

The newly published peer-reviewed study, "Side-chain Fluorotelomer based Polymers in Children Car Seats" was published in the journal Environmental Pollution with our partners at Indiana University and University of Notre Dame.  Highlights of the study include:

  • Half of the tested car seats (purchased in 2018) had PFAS-treated fabrics. The fabrics were treated with fluorotelomer-based polymers, a type of PFAS.
  • PFAS chemicals may migrate from fabric into sweat. Exposing the fabric samples to synthetic sweat caused PFAS chemicals to migrate, suggesting a potential dermal route of exposure.
  • UV light may cause a breakdown of fluorotelomer-based polymers, leading to concerns about sunlight. After exposure to UV light, the seat fabrics showed significant increases in levels of two PFAS chemicals. Breakdown due to UV light is a particular concern because child car seats may be frequently exposed to sunlight. 
  • Degradation of PFAS polymers on other types of fabrics and apparel could contribute to contamination of the environment. Fluorotelomer-based PFAS polymers are produced in large volumes worldwide. 
  • Further research is needed to understand and quantify dermal exposures.

For more information contact Jeff Gearhart at [email protected]